How to Change Your Life
What we read impacts how we think, feel and what we do.
Over the years I have read numerous books to help with all sorts of issues and improve my life.
In this list of 23 books that will change your life are the books that I feel will help you the most in general.
There are other books for specific purposes I’d recommend as well but for this list I focused on finance and business, psychology and self-help, relationships and lastly, life in general.
If you don’t have the budget to buy books, check your local library.
Personally, I prefer owning as it has enabled my kids to read what I love and opened the opportunity for amazing discussions with everyone who visits my home.
For me, setting aside a small amount each month for books has been well worth it.
I’d also recommend, if you want to raise kids with a love of reading like I have, check out I Read For Fun.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links.
Since this is a finance site, I’ll start with the business and finance books that changed my life.
I’ve always been interested in money, business and how to make the most of it.
At 19, I had my own business and throughout my life have bought or founded and sold a few.
Business and money are interesting, enjoyable and the way for me to have the life I want.
Fortunately for me, my parents had a well-stocked bookshelf to choose from and we lived close to a selection of libraries.
Some of the books in this list I read as a teenager and it shaped how I manage money.
1. The Richest Man in Babylon
Being raised in a religious home, I read The Richest Man in Babylon at 13 and it was an easy read because of the constant Bible study growing up.
That said, it might not appeal to everyone but it is a good read.
The basic principles in it will set you up for life though.
Pay yourself first and treat it the same as any other bill. Invest.
Be wise with your money. Spend less than you earn etc.
It’s a thin book with a simple story that shows how your choices and applying these simple principles can really impact your future.
2. The Psychology of Money
If you want to learn about why you do what you do with money and how to change that, The Psychology of Money is essential reading.
The statistics, stories and advice all helped me understand myself and my relationship with money much better.
Another interesting life change because of this book was understanding others better.
My family and friends come from all walks of life, with huge differences in how we were raised regarding money and culture.
The Psychology of Money helped me see them and the way they do things in a better light as well.
3. Budget Books: Money with Jess and The Barefoot Investor
I am putting these books together as I feel they do similar and appeal to different audiences.
Both are great for learning how to budget and about money basics.
Money With Jess is more visual and outlines each budget area of your life, how to plan for it and how to save money in those areas.
It is colour coded and extremely relatable.
The Barefoot Investor has a 3 bucket system and is an easy way for people with no idea about money to get started.
1. Set a monthly date night
2. Set up your buckets (based on his serviette strategy for a budget. These are separate bank accounts for different things).
3. Domino your debts
4. Buy your home
5. Increase your super to 15%
6. Boost your Mojo to 3 months (your Mojo is your emergency savings account which you set up during the first few date nights)
7. Get the banker off your back (clear your mortgage)
8. Nail your retirement number (you don’t need $1,000,000 to retire!)
9. Leave a legacy
So as you can see, there are similarities, but also key differences.
I think they are both a great start, however, decide what works best for you.
If you are great with money (especially credit cards) there are ways to accrue points and make your money go further, which goes against the ideas in these books.
When it comes to the superannuation, banks and other specific accounts or brands he mentions, remember they are just examples!
Do your own research to find the right product for you or get professional, personalised advice.
4. Your Money or Your Life and Die With Zero
Another double-up but similar books in terms of what they talk about.
Life is for living.
Yes, we all need to plan for the future, retirement and be smart with money but that isn’t all life is for.
We need to enjoy and live life in the meantime too.
As a parent, my focus has been building our financial future while also creating amazing memories, travelling and being close to my kids.
At times I could have made a lot more money if I made different choices regarding my work or childcare.
However, with my teens the ages they are, I know the decisions I made to put them and our life ahead of potential money was right.
We have a great relationship, are close, they’re confident, intelligent and I get compliments about them all the time.
They have great memories, we hang out and they often say how grateful they are for the life we have and the things we’ve done. Your Money or Your Life and Die With Zero will open your eyes.
5. Unleash Your Inner Money Babe
I love a challenge and the idea of creating $1,000 in 21 days appealed to me.
If you enjoy manifesting/the Law of Attraction and similar, you will love Unleash Your Inner Money Babe.
Each day has a theme with an activity to do to improve your money mindset and bring in an extra $1,000 within the 21 days.
It’s not only thinking about things, it is about taking action.
One of the things I love about this book is the fact it doesn’t focus on your income as there are so many ways money can come to you.
Each time I’ve done it I made way more than the $1,000 (I tend to aim higher in general).
Outside of business income, I found more money on the streets, was given gift cards, cash and other things randomly and even had a lump sum back payment from years prior I was not expecting.
With the business, income increased dramatically as well. Definitely worth trying this book out.
6. Lucky Bitch
Aussie Money Mindset extraordinaire, Denise Duffield-Thomas, wrote Lucky Bitch, a must-read to change how you are with money.
Clear your money blocks, learn more about yourself and your relationship with money, why you do things the way you do and prepare to make more money.
While it might seem a bit ‘woo woo’ to some, it’s worth reading and doing the exercises.
You can check out Denise’s site for more resources too including the money archetypes and business tips.
7. We Should All Be Millionaires
I listened to it on Audible and loved it so much that I bought a print copy.
This book was gold to me. As a mother of children of colour, and a woman in business, I loved the statistics on women and women of colour regarding finances and business.
I did the $10,000 challenge in We Should All Be Millionaires and it was interesting how it worked out.
At first, I was on maternity leave and pregnant when doing it so was unsure how to make it happen, but make it happen I did.
Doing the exercises in this book will help you a lot in all areas of your life.
Rachel has a great podcast that includes some of the book chapters too.
Check out this review of We Should All Be Millionaires. It really is a game-changer.
8. Profit First
Every business owner needs to read and implement this system.
If you want profit but never seem to have the actual cash at the end of the month or financial year, Profit First will show you how to change that.
Money in business is difficult for many business owners.
Often they are great at their work and hopeless with the books or don’t know where to start.
Implementing and easy system will see you have more profit and improve.
Your business cannot survive if you don’t have a profit and manage the money properly.
9. Nomad Capitalist
My family is spread across Australia, Vanautu and the Solomon Islands.
The beauty of this is Vanuatu has long been considered a tax haven, as in somewhere that doesn’t charge tax and is more financially appealing than the US or Australia.
In the future, I’ll be a dual citizen of Australia and Vanuatu which is why Nomad Capitalist appealed to me.
You don’t have to be from one of these countries to benefit though.
Nomad Capitalist is a fascinating read about how you really can save money like “big companies” but taking advantage of international options.
Instead of complaining about ‘the rich’ dodging taxes or cheating or anything along those lines, you can learn principles you can apply as well that are legal.
Yes, plenty of people do dodgy things but there are ways to reduce your tax and other expenses legally.
Psychology and Self-Help Books
Books that give tips to improve your life in general or discuss psychology have appealed to me since I was a teen.
Given their popularity worldwide, it is something everyone seeks out. Here are my favourites.
10. The Big Leap
Numerous times I was told to read The Big Leap when I was having significant health issues in 2015.
Based on the cover, I put off reading it so many times.
The cover seemed so plain, the book so thin, how could it possibly help?
When I finally read it, a few years later, it changed how I viewed everything and I could see clearly why it was being recommended.
Too often we self-sabotage the good things in our life.
The Big Leap isn’t a finance book but will impact your finances.
I’ve read it a few times and each time I learn more (or more sinks in).
When you look at your life, you will begin to notice patterns.
Things will be going great, then all of a sudden, it comes crashing down.
Often, this is because we feel unworthy or as if we don’t deserve all the good things.
Why shouldn’t life be easier?
You do deserve a good life and this book helps you crack the negativity and sets you up to accept success, achieve more and have an easier life.
Having been homeless because of domestic violence, paralysed twice and overcome numerous other obstacles, I can honestly say, this book is the one that truly helped me deal with those obstacles and change my life.
Every single person I know who has read this book says it changed their life.
It’s so simple to read, yet profound. Learn more about yourself, how you self-sabotage and stop it!
11. What Happened To You?
As someone who has experienced a lot of trauma, What Happened To You by Dr Bruce Perry and Oprah Winfrey changed how I view myself, my life and others.
For helping to understand others and ourselves, this book is a must-read for everyone.
It was eye-opening how trauma impacts us all, our reactions, triggers and how to help.
The stories in it are so moving and for someone who has experienced extreme trauma, it was validating.
It is highly recommended by everyone who reads it because it really does change every aspect of your life.
12. Unf*ck Yourself
Get out of your own way! How often are we so caught up in our own thoughts that we talk ourselves out of something?
The mantra “I am willing” from this book and everything he said about it was the kick up the butt I needed to commit to working out, taking care of myself and focusing on the things I want in my life.
I really love the Audible version of Unf*ck Yourself.
There is something about the Scottish accent that made this book even more powerful than others when listened to.
13. What You Feel You Can Heal
Easy to read and apply, What You Feel You Can Heal is similar to having a therapist in book form. Do the activities and work to see real changes in your life.
Published. in 1995, it is not easy to get except on Audible.
I happened to pick it up in a second hand store and didn’t expect much.
Each chapter is easy to read and apply.
When we start to understand ourselves better, we can heal from the things in our lives keeping us stuck.
We can also understand others better and improve all our relationships.
14. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
As a teenager, I was going through a rough stage when I came across The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I also read the version for teens written by his son.
Going through the exercises in the book and applying them to my life changed how I did things and saw me get a job, move out of home at 17 and focus on how I want my life to be.
I read it again when I got divorced and it’s been a guiding book for my life.
The 7 habits are
1. Be Proactive
2. Begin With The End In Mind
3. Put First Things First
4. Think Win-Win
5. Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood
7. Sharpen The Saw
How we relate to others and the relationships we have in our lives will impact every part of it.
Who we choose as a romantic partner, the people we work with, friends, colleagues, all of them.
The more we know about human behaviour and relationships, the easier love, work, family and life will be.
15. The 5 Love Languages
Learning about your love language and the language of those around you will change your interactions.
We don’t all accept, understand, give or receive love the same way. The 5 Love Lanaguages outlines the languages as well as how to give and receive love, examples of each language and tips for life in general.
For example, gifts is the dominant love language of my eldest child and quality time and touch are the main love languages of my second.
My eldest needs quality time and touch still, but in much smaller doses.
Knowing this and working in a way where I speak their love language has drastically changed the feel in our home and our relationships.
I’ve applied the knowledge of the 5 love languages to every relationship from romantic through to work and it changed things drastically.
People feel heard and understood, making interactions with them a more positive experience when you speak their love language.
You can use the tips in the book for work situations, family, your love life, anything interactions with people really.
16. The Queen’s Code
Knowing how to speak helps every area of life. The Queen’s Code is focused on the masculine and feminine and using that effectively.
The story used can get a little boring but I found the techniques taught were really powerful.
Rather than viewing it as man vs woman (it is written as women dealing with men and how to do that, so very heterosexual), take the tips to use with people who present more masculine.
Once I read and applied it, getting things done in life with others seemed to happen much quicker and easier with fewer altercations and less dumped on me.
It’s kind of hard to explain the difference it made but I am glad I read The Queen’s Code.
17. Women Who Love Too Much
Too many women give everything and more, get disrespected and hurt. Women who Love Too Much is essential for all women but especially women with bad patterns in relationships.
I first read it after leaving an alcoholic and it helped me heal immensely.
A few years later I read it again and learned even more. It’s the sort of book you will probably need to read and apply a few times as you learn and grow.
Women tend to give a whole lot more, get used and left feeling burnt out, abused and hurt. You can break that pattern.
18. Mindful Pregnancy
Even though I had given birth twice already, I got this when pregnant with my third and it helped immensely.
Especially with the birth and the mindfulness tactics I used during that time. I wish I had this knowledge with my first two pregnancies.
Mindful Pregnancy covers every stage of pregnancy and birth, from health tips through to mindset.
Exercises you can do, massage that will help, things to eat, meditation etc.
It’s a holistic view of this incredible stage of life.
I highly recommend it to anyone planning a family or currently pregnant.
There are so many parts of our life it’s hard to decide what to focus on sometimes.
This section covers health, habits, admin and similar aspects of life.
19. Life Admin Hacks
This was a recent read and fantastic for organising our home life.
All those admin tasks that end up dumped on the mum usually and increasing our mental load can be simplified.
Life Admin Hacks covers all over it so easily.
By implementing the tips, some of which we already did but found out how to do better, much of my mental load was reduced.
The household ran smoother, nothing was missed and there was a lot less back and forth/messaging/questions etc as it is all laid out easy for everyone to see.
Having teens who go to school, work, sports and other extracurricular activities, plus two babies, my own work and life makes for a busy household.
Using things such as a digital family calendar and working out what we can streamline has been fantastic.
Another aspect that helped was bringing back meal kits.
I used to do them regularly and it was great as my kids could see what was for dinner, they could choose meals to cook etc.
Meal planning and cooking was no longer my full responsibility.
20. Atomic Habits
Your habits will determine your life. With Atomic Habits, you learn the power of small changes, how to make those changes, how to habit stack and how effective it is and so on.
Our habits are truly amazing in that whether we have good or bad ones, they compound and grow.
You might not notice the changes at first but each day we are either moving towards or away from our goals.
If you can get even 1% better or do 1% towards a goal every day, you will improve.
Through the power of compounding, 1% better every day sees huge results over time.
Plus 1% isn’t so big a change it is overwhelming.
Take money as an example. Start saving 1% now, then increase it to 2% in a month or two, increase it again when you feel comfortable with the 2% and soon enough you will be saving 10% without much adjustments.
If you are putting away that 1% first, not touching it and learning to live without it, you’ll adapt quickly to that small change. Increase it and again, the change is minimal so the adaption is easy.
Trying to save 10% immediately when you save nothing now will feel like a bigger sacrifice and be harder to stick to.
Small changes make a big impact if you stick to them.
21. You Can Heal Your Life
A mindset and health book that helped me overcome paralysis. I’ve had some severe health issues including paralysis.
The doctors told me I may as well go on disability because it wasn’t going to get better.
I was devastated at first then rejected the diagnosis and set about repairing myself.
Reading everything I could, I came across You Can Heal Your Life.
It is fascinating how different health issues are linked to different mental struggles.
Using the techniques in the book, combined with a change in diet and using some herbal remedies, I healed rather quickly.
Now, I do occasionally get flare ups but can manage it and I am never at the point where I cannot walk anymore or blacking out from pain.
22. Not Just Lucky
I was given this book because I always say how lucky I am and my friend wanted to show me it’s not just luck.
I’ve overcome domestic violence, homelessness, paralysis and won international awards.
Whenever I was asked how I did it, I would share my tips but also said I was lucky.
It irritated my friend to no end because it wasn’t just luck, yet as women, we downplay our resilience, our hard work and say we’re lucky.
No, you worked your butt off to get to where you are.
You ate crap for breakfast and did what you had to do. I know I did.
On top of that, one thing I had no idea about was how much my looks impacted everything.
Numerous studies shared in Not Just Lucky revealed the ‘ideal’ or ‘luckiest’ woman based on looks.
When I looked into the research from various universities about this I was mortified.
Why? Because it described me.
Basically, if you’re caucasian, blonde, my height (172cm), attractive but not too attractive, slim but not too slim etc.
You are ideal and will have it easier with everything from wages through to how you’re treated at meetings compared to other women.
It was a few years ago I read this book and it was mindblowing for me.
Do yourself a favour, read this book and share it with every woman you know.
Change the future for our kids.
23. The Last Lecture
Surprisingly, this was a book I read with my 9 year old daughter (now 13 and still her favourite book).
I was reading it on the bus and she asked what it was about, so I told her and she asked me to read it to her.
The conversations we had around it, the way it prompted our thinking and in general, the reviews of this book are why I would recommend it to everyone.
The Last Lecture will make you think differently.
We want to think we’ll live forever, but we won’t.
My mother died at 37 from cancer so Randy’s life and stories hit home for me.
It wasn’t until I faced my own health scares with paralysis and testing positive for bladder cancer (the cancer my mum died from) that I really appreciated my life.
Since that time, I have actively worked to ensure my children and I have the life we want, that we have memories, not just things.
The Last Lecture is a wonderful collection of his life stories with lessons for all of us.
Professors are often asked to give a ‘last lecture’ at universities. For Randy, it really was his last lecture.